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University of Dayton
Potential Unlimited

This article first appeared in Dayton USA magazine on September 1965



Potential Unlimited

by Kay Timmons


     You are looking, searching and interviewing prospective employes.  On the application blank is space for a description of educational background – just how important is this?  Do you require college training?

     With the University of Dayton (U. D.) in our city, the market is choice and the variety should be excellent.  Today in its 116th academic year, the University includes the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, School of Business Administration, School of Education, School of Engineering, and Technical Institute.  This means a possibility of 21 degrees on associate, baccalaureate and graduate level.

     But to understand the full story of the school and its growth you must start in 1849, when a group of missionaries left their native France to undertake educational work in America.  They were members of the Society of Mary, a religious order of priests and brothers founded in 1817 by the Rev. William Joseph Chaminade.

     Father Leo Meyer and a traveling companion, Brother Charles Schultz arrived in New York July 4, 1849.  They traveled to Cincinnati but moved on to Dayton.  A serious cholera epidemic was raging and people were needed in Dayton to help cope with the epidemic, so Father Mayer and Brother Schultz helped at Dayton’s Emmanuel Church.

     Dayton offered Father Meyer a place to undertake his educational mission.  On March 19,1850, less than a year after his arrival in this country, Father Meyer bought the Dewberry Farm, a 120-acre tract of land on the southern edge of the city.  John Stuart sold his farm for $12,000 and accepted a small medal of St. Joseph as collateral.  In 12 years he was paid the full amount.

     The summer of 1850 brought fourteen boys to the Stuart farm school.  Lawrence Butz, one of the fourteen boys, later became Dayton’s mayor. 

     The first regular full-time term opened the following September.  The faculty numbered four and students were three times that.  The faculty included two instructors, Father Meyer and Brother Max Zehler.  Brother Schultz was the cook and Brother Andrew Edel was the gardener.

     Just five years after the beginning, fire completely destroyed the Stuart house and newly built addition.

     Father Meyer discontinued classes but in 1855, St. Mary’s was again established.  Not only was the school growing but the city was, too.  Dayton was on its way to becoming an outstanding community with libraries, churches, schools and banks throughout the city.

     Zehler Hall went up in 1865 and a year later came Liberty Hall, both of which are still used today.  Both were built in the “Brick and Mortar” period.  In 1869, the chapel was built.  In 1870, President Zehler built the five-story St. Mary’s Hall for $80,000.  It was the largest building in the city at that time and then became known as “Brother Zehler’s Folly.”  By this time the college campus was reduced form 120 acres to 56 since property had been sold to help pay Stuart.

     St. Mary’s Institute and the school were incorporated under Ohio laws in 1878.  Four years later it was granted rights to confer degrees.  In 1889, the first college degree was granted to John Hiller.

     In 1912, the school became known as St. Mary’s College; it was changed to the University of Dayton in 1920.  At this time the school was admitted to the Ohio College Association.

     John Sherman inaugurated a “Greater University of Dayton” campaign in 1936, which was to help the image of the school.  Sherman, a member of the University’s associate board of lay trustees, offered his help and that of his co-workers at Standard Register.  They wanted to make the University a more important part of the community.  Sherman appointed Mel Spayd, chairman of the board at Standard Register, campaign chairman.  Spayd’s job was to plan a promotional campaign to interest more students in the University.  The mayor proclaimed Greater University of Dayton Week.  The school was emphasized in the city’s educational, commercial and industrial life.

     In 1937, two years after coeducation was introduced, enrollment passed the thousand mark.  By 1945, there were 1200 students on the campus with a jump to 2800 in September of 1946—this was growth.  Buildings began to shoot up all over the campus.  “Temporary buildings” for classrooms, laboratories, and a student union were acquired from the government when the great “flood” of students rushed to the campus after World War II.  New faculty members came in and more buildings were under construction.

     Brother Elmer Lackner, Assistant to the President said, “It has been a thrill to see the tremendous growth at U. D. with the campus more than doubling since 1950.”

     In his silver anniversary year with the school he can recall only a few years ago when the ivy-covered buildings, which now occupy the front part of the campus, were the entire complex.  Now the new growth can be seen to the east from the original cluster.  One outstanding towering structure is the business building.  The glass which dominates the castle of commerce reminds one of a business building in the heart of a metropolis.  The building will be dedicated this month.

     This surge of growth started in 1950 when Dayton business donated $500,000 to help build the fieldhouse.  The community realized the importance of sports although many thought the fieldhouse for 5800 people was too big.  Coach Tom Blackburn proved them wrong. He had a wining team of local-boys and this brought capacity crowds.

     “Coach Blackburn’s ability to guide the Flyer basketball program from an ‘also ran’ into national recognition was a highlight of the University’s over-all growth,” said Father Raymond A. Roesch, president of the University.

     Miss Dee McAnespie, secretary to Brother Lackner and U.D. graduate,  remembers going to games at the Fairgrounds Coliseum when it was possible to go in at game time and get a seat on the front row in the middle—about 10 years later it was a different story, the field house was sold-out.

     Blackburn was named head coach in 1947, and the team went to the National Invitational Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York, during the 1950-51 season.  They went almost every year after that and in 1962 they were the tournament champions.

     It was on March 6, 1964, Coach Blackburn died.  He had been ill since the 1963-64 season started, but had coached every game at home and away even traveling by bus with the team.  He died only one day before the final game of the season.   The game was played the following night with Don Donoher, assistant coach, taking over.  Blackburn coached the team to 352 victories, one NIT championship and 141 losses.  Miss McAnespie remembers Blackburn as a courageous man, one feared but very much respected by the boys.

     Donoher was named head coach in 1964 and ended the season with 22 wins and 7 losses.  During this season the team went to the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.

     The 1965-66 season will be the second for Donoher and the first for the new football coach, John McVay.  McVay is a Miami University graduate who has had previous coaching experience in college.

     Sports are an important part of any school and these influenced Charlene Carroll, Dayton freshman, in her choice, but the total University picture was the determining factor.  The School of Education offered her preparation for a teaching career.  She took summer courses as an introduction to the University to lighten her studies in the fall term.  The University recently adopted the tri-mester system offering their students a year – round education.  Charlene became acquainted with the academic college life and also the social life.

     She described the focal point on campus—the new student union.  The John F. Kennedy Memorial Union is the center of activities which adds a cultural, recreational, religious and educational dimension to the U. D. campus.

     This building was dedicated only a year ago. It was a gift from the community in the second major fund-raising campaign in the past 10 years.  In 1962 a Combined University Building Fund was under way to raise money jointly for U. D. and the Ohio State-Miami University campus in Dayton.  S. C. Allyn and Robert S. Oelman served as campaign co-chairmen and their company, National Cash Register set the pace with a $1 million gift.  The campaign went over the $6 million mark and both schools shared the money.

     The previous major campaign in this ten year period was to raise $2,500,000 in 1956.  Numerous other gifts from Dayton people and companies over the years have expressed Dayton’s support for the school.

     Today two campuses totaling 150 acres with 25 major buildings valued near $30 million form the physical plant.

     Enrollment of the University in 1964-65 was 8700.  Of this number 6002 were full time.  About 35 percent of the full-time students are from Dayton and 25 per cent are from the rest of Ohio.  It ranks as the 10th largest Catholic college in the United States.

     This September 9000 students are expected.  Freshman students will arrive in Dayton, September 2 for the five-day orientation program.  The program opens with registration and includes meetings, dances, a tour, a concert, a picnic and other entertainment.

     It will be the first college year for many and return for others; but each year when hundreds graduate, Dayton’s employment picture holds promise for future growth—and prime employes for you, Mr. Employer.